Nevertheless, Texas Tech enters the contest with the nation's No. 1 total defense and Iowa State is not far behind at No. 14. These lofty rankings are partially a function of weak non-conference schedules, but still, these are two good defensive football teams.
After playing a slate of Tulsa, Iowa and Western Illinois, the Cyclones are No. 9 nationally in scoring defense. Tulsa singed ISU a bit in the opener, scoring 23 points, but the Cyclones were lights out in the last two games, allowing Iowa two field goals and Western Illinois one.
Iowa State has been stouter against the pass than the run, checking in with the nation's No. 2 pass defense efficiency rating, while surrendering a 31st best 3.3 yards per carry average.
The Cyclones are No. 14 in third down conversion defense, but are dead last in red zone defense, allowing scores on all six opposing penetrations.
Defensive Line: The undoubted hoss up front is senior tackle Jake McDonough. The six-foot-five 280-pounder leads ISU in tackles for loss with 2.5 to go along with 7 tackles and a quarterback hurry. He is an all conference candidate. Alongside him, Canadian Cleyon Laing has six stops. The starting defensive ends are Roosevelt Magitt and Willie Scott. Neither has a sack, although Magitt has a pair of quarterback hurries to his name.
Linebackers: The meat of the Cyclone defense comes in the form of linebackers Jake Knott and A. J. Klein. They comprise the best linebacking tandem in the Big 12, if not the country.
Knott, a 250-pound senior from Waukee, Iowa, is off to a fast start. He leads Iowa State with 22 tackles, and also has an interception, a forced fumble, three passes broken up and four passes defended. Obviously, Knott can move for a big man and causes trouble dropping into passing lanes.
Klein, from Kimberly, Wisconsin, is also a 250-pound senior, and like partner Knott, is on every linebacker award watch list in captivity. He's currently third in tackles with 19 and also has a quarterback hurry to his credit.
Jeremiah George is the usual third starter, but he will miss the Tech game and be replaced by Deon Broomfield, who has 10 tackles, an interception and 51-yard return, three passes broken up and four defended.
Secondary: Iowa State doesn't have much size at the cornerback positions, but the starters there are real gamers. Jeremy Reeves, in particular, is a thorn in the side of receivers. The five-foot-seven 175-pound senior from Allen, Texas has 12 tackles, two pass breakups and two passes defended so far on the season. Jansen Watson, who stands five-foot-nine, is the other starting corner. The junior from Kissimmee, Florida, who chose Iowa State over Auburn and Kansas State, has 12 tackles, three pass breakups and three more defended.
The starting Cyclone safeties are Durrell Givens and Jacques Washington. Both bring the beef, checking in at 210 pounds. Givens has dented the stat sheet with 14 tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery. Washington, a returning starter from Owasso, Oklahoma, has 11 tackles, an interception, two pass breakups and three passes defended.